A recipe for successful writing

A few weeks ago I went to Nottingham , a city I once lived in . I was really pleased to find that a favourite cafe of mine was still tucked away ,up an alleyway, near the now deserted shop I used to work in .

Whilst there I ate a delicious sandwich- granary bread with tofu, artichoke hearts and pesto, served up with a lovely carroty , cabbagy salad .
What does this have to do with writing? you ask yourself .
Well when I got home I decided that I wanted to eat that sandwich again. So I decided to try to replicate the flavours and ingredients I had tasted . It reminded me of the taste challenge on Masterchef ,where the contestants have to eat a meal that has been cooked by the experts and try to identify the different ingredients, herbs and spices that make up the recipe .

In the classroom we ask children to read texts and try to identify the elements that make it a particular genre . “What are the features? ” we ask our children. The contestants on Masterchef have to work out how the dish was made , was it fried, boiled , sautéed or baked. This takes skill, it does not come naturally to most.The more dishes one has tried , the more likely they are to recognise the texture or the taste of a dish cooked in this way . in the same way the child who has been exposed to wide range of reading material , who has been able to make decisions about which genres they like to read , is more likely to recognise those features easily. Reading is key to building a bank of knowledge about what writing is and what it does.

So the ingredients , the words if you like . The contestants on Masterchef need to taste the dishes carefully and mistakes are often made . Is it pork or lamb ? Prawns or scallops . Subtle differences can result in a dish that is very similar , or a compete disaster.
Our children can be given the words to use in their writing . A word wall could be transformed into steak , or horsemeat burgers depending on the skill of the writer. Lack of knowledge could result in boiled sirloin steak , or sautéed lettuce ( not entirely appealing )

If we feed our children a diet of grammar, worksheets and boring texts, then the end result won’t be anything special . Yes we have to start with the basics , just as a cook needs to learn how to mix flour and eggs , or slice vegetables , a child needs to know what a sentence is and how the words fit together. A chef can follow a recipe step by step , but this isn’t what makes a tasty meal. The more times that dish is created and tasted , the more that the chef begins to deviate from the recipe ,adding their own twist perhaps a new seasoning or a different vegetable . The chef learns to combine tastes and flavours , through experimenting and often making mistakes learns which spices complement certain meats and vegetables.

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